Category: Uncategorized

Book Review: A Portrait of Loyalty

About the Book:

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.

My Thoughts:

I always enjoy Roseanna White’s storytelling. This book is the end of a series and while it did reference other characters that had previously been introduced it seemed like it could have been read as a stand alone.

I have been trying to decide if it is the time in which I read the book or if it is the book itself, but this novel seemed a bit darker than previous books in the series. The introduction of the revolution in Russia alongside the war in Britain and the flu pandemic wove three rather serious strands in and out of the story.

I enjoyed the photography aspect of the book as well as the consideration of art and ethics. The strands of romance ranged from simple and sweet to complex and heartrending, while the divisions between family and friends were a bit too real for me in the present moment.

There was, as expected, faith and hope and triumph in the tale and the writing was excellent, yet, it was probably my least favorite book by Ms. White. I still recommend it. There was faith, hope and triumph along with a call to pay attention and make the most of each day. I think that it simply wasn’t the type of book that I most need for this crazy year of 2020, but that might not apply to you at all.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Vying for the Viscount

About the Book:

For Hudson, the newly titled Viscount Stildon, moving to England from India where he was born and raised was already an arduous enough endeavor. When he learns the fate of the racing empire he inherited along with his title depends upon him getting in the good graces of another stable owner, he’s even more at a loss.

The stable at the neighboring estate has been Miss Bianca Snowley’s refuge for years, and when a strange man appears to be stealing the horses, she jumps to their protection without a second thought. Upon learning Hudson is actually the new owner, she can’t help but be intrigued by the area’s newest eligible bachelor.

Any thought of romance is quickly set aside, however, when Hudson proposes they work together to secure suitable spouses for each other. As their friendship grows, Hudson and Bianca begin to reconsider what they truly want in life. But will societal expectations and the weight of their responsibilities keep them from pursuing their true desires?

My Thoughts:

I enjoy Kristi Ann Hunter’s way of mixing thoughtfulness with engaging narrative and well rounded characters.

In this novel I especially appreciated the flexibility that the author brought to Hudson’s character due to his cross cultural background. I also appreciated that while there was an “over the top” villain that he didn’t dominate the tale.

Vying for the Viscount is a sweet tale of companionship and a delightful story of discovering that the path to true happiness isn’t always what we expect.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

About the Book:

Stephen R. Lawhead, the critically-acclaimed author of the Pendragon Cycle, concludes his Eirlandia Celtic fantasy series with In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows.

Conor mac Ardan is now clan chief of the Darini.

Tara’s Hill has become a haven and refuge for all those who were made homeless by the barbarian Scálda.

A large fleet of the Scálda’s Black Ships has now arrived and Conor joins Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. He finds treachery in their midst…and a betrayal that is blood deep.

And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

The Eirlandia Series:
#1) In the Region of the Summer Stars
(Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2XEXsMn)
(Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31y9KXY)
#2) In the Land of the Everliving
(Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2F1H16t)
(Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/33wLZCq)
#3) In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

My Thoughts:

First, you should know that this book does not stand alone. It is essential to the understanding of the story that you read books 1 and 2.

Stephen Lawhead is a well established author with a large collection of historical fiction works set in the ancient isles of Britain. He has also written fantasy and science fiction. This series incorporates the mythology of fantasy, drawing upon historical belief systems, and the realities of life in ancient Ireland. I personally think that the most challenging aspect of this book series was incorporating actual characters that were fairies and ancients gods/goddesses into the reality of a historically envisioned tale. I love fantasy, but this book often seemed to blur the lines between fantasy and history. Taking the entire tale as ancient myth and a certain way of seeing the world is what made it work for me.

As to the historical setting, the druids are perhaps a bit less dark in character in these novels than history informs us, but clan life and the war against the invaders was portrayed with all the violent historical aspects of reality.

The characters were well developed and their motivations believable. The books were complex, descriptive and difficult to put down. The bonds of friendship, the curiosity of seeking out truth and the honor of doing what is best for the sake of others are all strong themes within the work. I enjoyed the series from start to finish.

There was, however, a concluding section that I wish had been left out. Once the story is complete the author skips forward to St. Patrick and the coming of Christianity. What follows is a rather complicated pronouncement of prophesies. In reflecting upon this section it is clear that the author, through Patrick, is trying to explain that the Ireland that came before Christianity was part of the shaping of the people and that all that has brought us to the present moment can be honored as part of the greater story. And yet, I mentioned the lines between history and fantasy in this series seemed to blur at times. And Christianity is reality. The salvation of Jesus Christ isn’t built upon myths of the past. (Not to say that there isn’t some truth in mythology, you can read C.S. Lewis for more on that topic, but that the gospel is an entirely different way of seeing the world. It requires the re-ordering of our belief systems.) So I found this passage incongruous to the story as a whole and I wish the book would have ended without trying to justify the story within the context of Christianity.

That said, it is still an excellent story for lovers of history and fantasy alike.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: House at the End of the Moor

About the Book:

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?
 
Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

My Thoughts:

Something about Michelle Griep’s writing always draws me into the story. The House At The End Of The Moor was no exception.

There were many facets to the story and I liked the way they were woven together to form a layered tale. I found the variety of villains added interesting dynamics, however some of the aspects associated with the villains seemed difficult to swallow and still find the story believable.

All in all I found the adventure to be fast paced and interesting, the connection between the main characters authentic and the redemption sufficient.

I received a free, unedited digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: In Want & Plenty

About the Book:

Although our circumstances vary, we all ache with a longing for something more. We are born with dreams, and some of us even have detailed plans about how to make them happen. Yet we all come to a point in life when we realize that we are not in control. A loved one gets sick, a tragedy occurs, our plans backfire. What we may not realize is that even if we can’t depend on our circumstances or even ourselves, there is One who will always provide what we need, just when we need it. With compassion and enthusiasm, Meredith McDaniel invites you to walk alongside God’s people in Exodus as they wake up each morning to manna, God’s provision for them in desert places. As she unfolds their story of complete dependence on their Creator, you’ll discover through guided journaling how God is providing for you right now, where you are in your own unique story. Along the way, you will develop a comforting awareness that you are seen, guided, protected, and filled by a good God in the person of Jesus.

My Thoughts:

Before I talk about the content of In Want & Plenty I want you to know that it is a different kind of book. I wish we had a genre to describe it. I’d almost call it an interactive life study. The first time I read an interactive book I had just boarded a plane for an international flight and I opened my copy of Crazy Love. And as I was asked to go look this or that thing up online (back when there was no internet on flights) I thought, “I’ve picked a good book for the wrong time.” And maybe that’s why I want you to know more what this book is like so you can pick this good book for the right time. This book has songs to listen to and reflect on.  It has questions to journal about.  And they aren’t just stacked up at the end of the chapter where you can skip ahead and ignore them, they are scattered throughout the writing.  I love it, especially the songs, but I also was selective about when I chose to read this, so it is a point to consider.

Now, on to the content: It’s great. The questions asked and the ways the author tells stories, both personal and Biblical, are engaging. And she is addressing a topic that we all need to engage with. How do we remember and live in the reality that God is enough? What does that look like when we are in want? What does it look like in abundance? What did that look like for Israel? What does that look like for me, with my history and my challenges? In this book you’ll be exploring your story and discovering where hope can be found.

If you are wondering where your story is heading or how to find a better way forward, this treasure hunt for God’s manna may be just the place to start to put your feet onto the path of hope.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The End of the Magi

About the Book:

Following his vision of the coming Messiah, the prophet Daniel creates a select group of men who will count down the calendar to the arrival of Israel’s promised king. Centuries later, as the day nears, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, flees for his life when his adoptive father and others are put to death by a ruthless Parthian queen.

Having grabbed only a few possessions, Myrad escapes the city, and searching for a way to hide from the soldiers scouring the trade routes, he tries to join the caravan of the merchant Walagash. The merchant senses that Myrad is hiding secrets, but when the young man proves himself a valuable traveler, an epic journey filled with peril, close escapes, and dangerous battles begins.

With every day that passes, the calendar creeps closer to the coming Messiah. And over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can’t forget and the promise that the world will never be the same.

My Thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Patrick Carr’s writing, so of course I was waiting on pins and needles for his newest book. The End of the Magi represents a shift from the genre of fantasy to the realm of historical and I think that Carr did an excellent job of navigating that shift.

The characters were extremely engaging and complex, which I have come to expect from Carr’s writing. I also appreciated how human the Magi were, especially in their varying expectations of the Promised One. The historical setting was fascinating and descriptive. In many ways I felt like I was living Myrad’s story, which I think is the ultimate goal of a novel.

I will say that the pace of the novel is slow and thoughtful. This isn’t a galloping suspense novel as much as it is a suspenseful journey of mystery and waiting: waiting for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy and waiting to discover what that meant for the individual lives of the characters. It’s a perfect read for the season of Advent or honestly for the season of Lent as well, since Carr takes the story of the Magi beyond the birth to the final days of the Long Awaited One.

Overall, I’d say the book was unexpected. I’ve read a number of Magi stories and this one was like no other and yet it was also entirely relatable, perhaps even more so than other tales that have been told. And while I have to say my preference for Carr’s fantasy novels remains, I was impressed by this journey into historical fiction and I would recommend it to you.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review (after I had already ordered a paperback copy) so I’m giving you my honest opinion as a fan who purchased a book and as a reviewer. This book is worth reading.

Book Review: A Name Unknown

Releases on July 4, 2017

About the Book:

Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a librarian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t put it down.  From the first page to the last I was intrigued by both plot and characters.  There were several interesting twists and turns to the story and I found myself feeling quite attached to the characters all the while hoping for a happy resolution to their varied dilemmas.  My only regret is that I read it too quickly.

I would fully recommend A Name Unknown.  I thought it was a delightful novel and I hope there will be more to follow.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: An Elegant Facade

cover86130-mediumAbout the Book:

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has always known she must marry well. After years of tirelessly planning every detail of her debut season, she is poised to be a smashing success and have her choice of eligible gentlemen.

With money and powerful business connections but no title, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. He intends to marry someday, but when he does it will not be to a shallow woman like Lady Georgina, whose only concerns appear to be status and appearance.

But beneath her flawless exterior, Georgina’s social aspirations stem from a shameful secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden–and that Colin is too close to discovering. Drawn to each other despite their mutual intent to avoid association, is the realization of their dreams worth the sacrifices they’ll be forced to make?

My Thoughts:

An Elegant Facade is the second book in the Hawthorn House series.  (Or actually the third if you count the free novella, A Lady of Esteem).  You could read An Elegant Facade as a stand alone novel, but I would recommend reading it with the rest of the series.

I found the novel to be absolutely brilliant.  Kristi Ann Hunter took a risk and began by taking you halfway back into the events of her previous book (A Noble Masquerade) and telling parts of the tale again from another character’s point of view.  This could have come across as cumbersome or repetitive, however, it was so skillfully written that I found it fresh and inventive.  In fact, the author did something that is rarely done, she took a character that I had a mild dislike toward and made her someone that I really cared about.

All in all, I think that this story was a fabulously entertaining read that any fan of faith based Regency Romance should not miss.

– – –

I was given a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  Save

Save

Book Review: Playing the Part

 About the book:

“Turano, known for her delightfully humorous tales, has done it again.”–Booklist starred review of In Good Company

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but must abandon her starring role when a fan’s interest turns threatening. Lucetta’s widowed friend, Abigail Hart, seizes the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta’s life and promptly whisks her away to safety at her eligible grandson’s estate.At first glance, Bram Haverstein appears to be a gentleman of means–albeit an eccentric one–but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there’s much more to him than society knows.While Lucetta has no interest in Abigail’s matchmaking machinations, she can’t ignore the strange things going on in Bram’s house and the secrets he hides. As the hijinks and hilarity that Bram, Lucetta, and their friends are swept into take a more dangerous turn, can they accept who they are behind the parts they play in time to save the day?”Turano has crafted another feisty female protagonist who defies the mores of her time, in this case 1882 New York. This provocative novel brims with the author’s trademark humor and subtle romantic style laced with faith.” —Library Journal“The author will have readers laughing out loud and rooting for their favorite characters to fall in love. Lucetta is a plucky, admirable character filled with wit and intelligence. You will want to catch up with the first two books and then put this fast-paced, engaging novel on your must-buy list.”–RT Book Reviews Top Pick

My Thoughts:

I did laugh out loud, more than once.  Turano is my new favorite author to turn to when I really need a good laugh and Playing the Part did not disappoint.

This is the third book in a series and while you could read it without reading the other books first you will miss out on some of the character development that happened in previous novels.

Book One was: After A Fashion

Book Two was: In Good Company

The whole series was delightful.

_ _ _

I received a free digital unedited proof of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.